Help Empower Women Who are Homeless in Chicago

by Sarah's Circle
IH new space plan
IH new space plan

Construction on Sarah’s Circle’s new building is nearly complete. We have successfully moved our administrative offices to our new location at 4838 N. Sheridan Rd. and plan to have our daytime supportive services running from this location, as well as ten women moved into their brand new apartments on the building’s 3rd and 4th floors, in a very short while.

Sarah’s Circle now has the opportunity to implement our plans for improving our Interim Housing program and providing more women with high quality services. In November, 2011 we took on the largest Interim Housing (Shelter) program for women in the City of Chicago. The 50-bed program is intended to be a comprehensive interim housing program, providing 24-hour shelter, supportive services, and placement directly into permanent housing, with a goal of a stay of less than 120 days. Last year over 80 women successfully entered permanent housing from our interim housing program and we believe that an improvement in our current Interim Housing facilities will yield greater results.

The women who enter our program deserve a bed, a few inches of personal space, a safe place to store few personal belongings, and the opportunity for success. Sarah’s Circle will retain our current space at 4750 N. Sheridan Rd and conduct the minor renovations needed to transform it into a full service, single site interim housing program. This strategy of reworking the current space allows us to use an existing kitchen, showers and laundry facility, making this a very economical way to create a proper Interim Housing Facility.

Women in the interim housing program will still be encouraged to attend Sarah’s Circle’s daytime program at our new location for clinical groups, educational and general interest programming, and the like, but the Interim Housing program will be private, secure, and self-contained in accordance with best practices. Case management, meals, daily necessities, and some clinical services will be provided in the program space. Women will have beds with secure storage lockers, room dividers for some degree of privacy, and greater flexibility around use of the space, as determined with program staff. The facility will also be fully ADA accessible. These facilities improvements will put the program in accordance with best practices in homeless services, and will dramatically improve the environment for growth, change, and fast placement into permanent housing. The changes will also eliminate the barriers to fully capitalizing on Sarah’s Circle’s particular knowledge and expertise in serving the most vulnerable women.

We are all deeply grateful for all the support you have given us, and ask that you consider another gift to Sarah’s Circle or specifically for this project!


Sarah's Circle 

"When you offered me this apartment, I didn't think I could make it another year homeless. I was so happy - I was in shock!"

These words were recently spoken by one of our clients, "Jane." After suffering several spinal injuries in 2001, Jane was forced to leave her job. She received disability benefits for a few years but in the process of losing her house to property taxes and taking care of her dying mother, Jane missed the renewal deadline for her benefits and subsequently lost them. She soon became homeless and struggled with housing stability for several years. Jane had been staying in shelters continuously for over four years when Sarah's Circle offered her a spot in one of our new Permanent Supportive Housing units. 

Sarah's Circle's Permanent Supportive Housing provides homes for women who struggle with chronic homelessness, meaning they have a disabling condition and have been homeless for years. The model, which includes intensive case management, has been proven to improve individual outcomes and reduce costs on public services. 

In 2012 Sarah's Circle added 10 new units of Permanent Supportive Housing, bringing our total number of units to 21. Jane is now one of 21 women living in these units. With new security and stability to work on her health and income goals, Jane is happier and healthier.

Very soon, the 10 most recently added units will be relocated to the third and fourth floors of Sarah's Circle's new building.These apartments will be fully furnished, have plenty of natural light, and each floor will have a sitting area as well as a laundry unit. To learn more about our new building, please visit our website

Thank you for all you do to help women rebuild their lives!

P.S. Sarah's Circle's 2012 Annual Report is now published! To learn more about our activities and the accomplishments we made with the help of our donors in 2012, please see the report. 

A few weeks ago, on February 10, Sarah’s Circle hosted our 21st Annual Winter Walk. The theme for this year’s walk was Walk a Homeless Mile. Our goal for the event was to increase awareness about homelessness in Chicago and raise critical funds for Sarah’s Circle. We successfully accomplished both goals!

While we reflected upon the challenges faced by women struggling with homelessness, we also celebrated the new projects underway at Sarah’s Circle—the construction of our new building and the renovation of our Interim Housing program. We were fortunate to have a former client return to speak at our event and share her experience of homelessness as well as the ways she was able to rebuild her life with the help of Sarah’s Circle’s supportive clinical, case management, and housing services.

Wendy first came to Sarah’s Circle in 2011 after a few months of being homeless. She was initially a part of Sarah’s Interim Housing program and was able to use Sarah's Circle's services to achieve employment and permanent housing last year. She will have her one-year housing anniversary in March and is one of the 95 women Sarah’s Circle placed in permanent housing this year! Anne also brought her happy and healthy six week old son with her to the event.

Thank you for supporting women like Wendy and for helping us to end homelessness for Chicago’s most vulnerable women!

Too often, Chicago’s most vulnerable women feel voiceless and out of control of their circumstances. Meet Melinda.

At one time in her life, Melinda lived by the philosophy of “taking control of everything, and making things happen.” In 2005, however, she faced a tragedy beyond her control--the death of her sister. After this devastating loss, Melinda left home and set out to find a new life in Indiana. Unable to gain proper footing there after a number of years, Melinda found herself on a bus headed to Chicago in hopes of finding stability.

Melinda went from shelter to shelter and slept on public benches before hearing about a “safe space” in Uptown that worked with women. She sought out Sarah’s Circle and began the process of regaining control of her life—The workers at Sarah’s Circle treated me with dignity and respect. Sarah’s Circle helped me to get my identification cards, access resources for food, and supported me in my efforts to return back to school."

This past year has been an eventful one at Sarah’s Circle. We took on a 50-bed interim housing program for women expanding our services to 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, expanded our clinical services, and began construction on our new building. We are planning for further improvements in staffing and facilities for interim housing. These developments have had and will continue to have a profound effect on the lives of women like Melinda.

Melinda is now working with a case manager to find a job and secure permanent, affordable housing. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with the staff and other women at Sarah's Circle. 

 "I am extremely grateful for there being a Sarah’s Circle and  the wonderful people they get to work with us [ladies]. They really go out of their way and motivate me to do better."

Your support allows us to continue to help women like Melinda. Thank you! 

Third floor of new building before construction
Third floor of new building before construction

We are excited to begin construction on our new home that will house our daytime program, office space for housing, case management and clinical services, and ten apartment for women with a history of chronic homelessness. The building will enable Sarah's Circle to serve a growing number of women in their efforts to secure permanent housing and increase their self sufficiency. 

This building is made possible by pro bono legal and architectural services provided by Mayer Brown and Perkins + Will, and funding from individuals, foundations, the City of Chicago, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Home Loan Bank, and the Illinois Development Authority, representing their shared commitment to ending homeless for women in Chicago. 

Next Wednesday we will host a Groundbreaking Ceremony to mark the beginning of construction. All are welcome to join Sarah's Circle at this celebration on September 12th, from 6pm-8pm. It will be held at the Boys & Girls Club across the street from the new building site at 4835 N Sheridan Road. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served. Senator Heather Steans and Alderman James Cappleman will give opening remarks at 6:30pm, highlighting the importance of Sarah's Circle. Additionally, a client who recently secured housing will speak about her experience with homelessness. 

We hope you'll be able to join us! If you plan to come, please email Caroline at 

Thank you again for your commitment to Sarah's Circle's work and believing in our mission. 

Third floor after start of construction
Third floor after start of construction

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Organization Information

Sarah's Circle

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Elizabeth Dunn
Chicago, IL United States
$19,319 raised of $35,000 goal
362 donations
$15,681 to go
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